woensdag 30 april 2014

Give good interview!

I give good interview.

See how I made that sound a little dirty? I do that sometimes. You’re welcome!
Anyway, back on track, this is not about my double entendres, but about interviews. As a writer I try to get seen, which means I give a lot of interviews. A lot of writers do this, but here’s the thing… some give terrible interviews.

People tend to forget that –like writing, or any other aspect of a writer’s career—interviews are important, and should be done with thought and care.
You don’t want to know the amount of times I’ve read an interview by one of my peers that made me want to fall asleep. To be honest with you… I tend to just zone out half way through and not finish them. Sorry guys.

So let me tell you where these people go wrong, and maybe I actually have something valuable to give to you in my blog today: When you do an interview, don’t just blurt out what you want to say… communicate in such a way that people want to hear. Interviews are not just about you answering questions with the first things that come up in your head. You want to tell something in your interview, you want to show the reader who you are. You need to have an ‘interview voice’.

For me my voice is ‘humor’, but you can be entertaining without being funny. In fact there are numerous ways to answer interview questions to get the reader involved. Perhaps you can answer with a great anecdote, or maybe you have a deeper insight into something, that you can share. Be anything, be weird, quirky, meaningful, poetic, hipster (no, don’t be hipster… a screw it, be hipster if you want) or anarchist… but be someone. Don’t just answer questions without putting some passion into it, because the reader will know.

And yes, I know… some interviewers make it hard to be original. To be honest the more interviews you do, the more challenging the ‘generic questions’ become. Even I struggle sometimes to be ‘original’ when answering certain questions, but still I try. And luckily a lot of interviewers are great, and have their own unique voice in their interviews. But in the end, it’s up to you, the interviewee to make the whole thing interesting.

Think about what it would be like to read your interview as an outsider. What would they get from your interview? Do they really need to know certain things about you, just because you did them? Or do you have something to say about why you did them?

It’s not that much different from writing a story, only this time you use fact rather than fiction. You still want to make it interesting. There is an art to leaving things out, as there is to exaggerating bits, and making them more prominent (I’m not saying ‘lie’, just make sure you describe the interesting parts with sufficient flair or drama)
Make people excited about you, because you’ll have more chance to make them excited about your writing.  

*puts down her imaginary reading glasses and gives you a wise stare* I think I have taught you enough, young Padawan. Now go off… and give good interview.

**** and as to prove my point, Jim Mcleod from Ginger Nuts of Horror posted this on his web: http://www.gingernutsofhorror.com/9/post/2014/04/be-interesting-be-engaging-dont-be-dull.html

(give it a read)

dinsdag 8 april 2014

Be a Juggling Act

When you decide to become a writer (or any kind of artist really, but my only experience is with writing, so I’ll have to give you a writer’s perspective) you have to step out of your comfort zone and into some sort of limelight. Not all these lights are equally bright, when you first start out you get a half assed candle flame at best, and all you can do is hope to get a nice bright spotlight to illuminate you. But still… even in the candle light, you step outside of the darkness, and as a result, people can see you. When people see you, they will have an opinion about what you do.
Not all of these opinions will be kind. That’s something a writer needs to deal with. You need to get yourself a few extra layers of skin, to make it thick and impenetrable. Yet at the same time, you will need to separate the opinions from the critique, because some of them can be good and very educational. You must listen to those around you, but at the same time, you need to learn how not to care when you simply can’t do anything with the opinions offered. There’s a trick in that, and I wonder if anyone masters it.
I don’t.
Critique can still hit me like a wrecking ball (stop picturing Miley Cyrus naked, swinging about, thank you… that song ruined some visuals for me) and there are times where I doubt every little thing I do.
The problem is: You can’t please everyone. Not in your writing and also not in promoting your writing. The best thing you can do is find your own path. Trust me when I tell you that there will be always someone who disapproves of your path. Some will even be very vocal about it. Some people will come right out and call you names, while others will be more subtle and bob you over the head with a more passive aggressive approach.
If you listen to all these people, you will spent your whole career feeling inadequate. It’s important to find your own path. Now in doing so, please don’t blind yourself either and just run around like a donkey stung by a bee. There is a ‘common sense’ element to this writing malarkey. It’s important to be kind to others for one, people can really help you in this business and it is nice if you return the favor, or pay it forward. Treat people right on your way up, it’ll be a more pleasant journey.
The other day I was talking to some people about marketing. Most of us writers (and probably artists) hate the marketing element. We need to tell the world all the good things that happen to us, because that is the only way we can gain their trust. And trust in an author begets readers. Good work keeps them, but you need to seduce a reader to buy your first book. So in order to do that, it helps to talk about your work. We don’t often feel comfortable about that. I mean, most writers would love to discuss their writing with a nice intimate group of peers who like to talk about writing and reading… but shouting it off the rooftops is far less appealing.
Telling people: “Hey… hey… hey, over here… look at me! Yeah, over here, me! Yeah! Look!! Here… I have a book,” whilst waving your book around for all to see really, really, really sucks. But if we don’t do it, we won’t be read. And so we talk about our books, about the reviews we get and the awards we win.
And there will always be people (yes including myself at times) that will scorn your accomplishments. Not everyone will be impressed if your aunt Daisy gave you a five star review, or if you won an award that your friends made up out of the three people that entered. But if that makes you happy, celebrate those moments. This is the part where I would like to preach ‘common sense’ though. You might not want to put too much focus on things that are only of personal emotional value, because (and here we get back to the trust issue again) if people don’t take you serious… they won’t buy your books. Mentioning something is one thing, pretending something is much bigger than it is… is another… ehm… thing.
I like to think everything is a balance, a careful juggling act. Sometimes we drop a ball, but at the same time we improve our skills and learn how to juggle more. Don’t let the people on the sidelines get you down, keep juggling. Don’t be intimidated by the people who can juggle more balls than you. Sometimes you’ll find that they’re not actually juggling more balls, but they’re just better illusionists.

Oh, and of course... it goes without saying: Buy my books ;)